The gun lobby’s worst nightmare just came true when the Connecticut Supreme Court ruled that families of the Sandy Hook murder victims can sue the manufacturer, the wholesaler and seller of the Bushmaster machine gun (I’ll call it what it is, dammit!) used in the attack.
The ruling allows a workaround of the “Runaway Jury” Law passed in 2005 exempting profiteers from all product liability when one of their pieces is used in a crime. The law allows exceptions for sale and marketing practices that violate state and federal laws. Remington marketed the Bushmaster with incitement to combat violence and slogans stating “consider your man card reissued.”
Lawyer/author John Grisham wrote “The Runaway Jury” in 1996. It was made into a 2003 A-list movie starring Gene Hackman, Dustin Hoffman, John Cusack, Rachel Weisz and a (pardon the expression) killer supporting cast. Hoffman played a New Orleans personal injury lawyer trying to win a hopeless product liability civil case on behalf of the widow and children of a mass slaying victim. When I saw it, I had a hunch the gunnies would go to Congress to (pardon the expression) build a wall. And they did.
THE ONLY “REASON”: Why do pervs commit mass shootings? Because they can. It’s easy.
RENT AND PILLAGE DEPT. The spirit of Barbara Bennett still guides us after lo, these many years.
The only mayor to make the Reno Gazette-Journal’s millennium list of 100 who made a difference in the 20th Century, she started a renters’ rights organization that led to the biggest political upset in Reno history in 1979. The mobile home-dwelling grandmother who drove a little yellow Volkswagen beat several council incumbents and other good-ole-boys to become the city’s first woman mayor.
Sen. Julia Ratti, D-Sparks, informed me this week that she has pulled her proposed rent control amendment to an apartment construction bill and awaits a new stand-alone draft. I will send all lawmakers a copy of this column.
I was there when the Reno City Council threw cold water on pre-mayor Bennett’s proposal for a rent justification ordinance which would have triggered when vacancies fell below five percent. We are far below that figure now – 1978 all over again. As a realtor friend of mine told me that year, our capitalist system usually works pretty well but not in a speculative boomtown like then and now.
Speculators and their representatives were actually driving around Reno with suitcases full of cash looking for properties to buy at any price. They were betting that boomtown growth would facilitate quick flips and quick profits. Those who got out early scored big. Those who got greedy and held on until the Carter/Volcker/Reagan recession lost their buns.
When speculators buy apartments in a boomtown environment, they pay a high price and jack up rents to cover their mortgages. Other landlords notice their higher levies and charge what the traffic will bear, defending “market determined rates.” In reality,existing landlords costs may have risen little or not at all. Ka-ching!
Bennett wanted landlords to document increased costs justifying higher rents while supply was close to zilch.
I remain unsure that local governments can’t enact rent justification ordinances right now. That issue was never raised in 1978. Perhaps the locals want political cover from the ledge.
It’s so bad now, as I reported last year (Barbwire 4-25-2018), landlords currently extort humongous application fees from potential renters. Some charge $50 per potential inhabitant, some $75 or more. I know one couple that paid $500 in such coercion until they found a small place. A credit background check costs less than a dollar. Google at will.
GOOSING GRANDMA. One Sparks complex is charging an extra $25 per month to pick up trash at the doors of disabled or elderly tenants. Watch Rentvolution.org for updates.
ONE VOTE AWAY. The Equal Rights Amendment is one state ratification away from making it into the U.S. Constitution. Nevada ratified in 2017, 40 years after legislative corruption killed it. I was there. Details online.
TICKET PRICES RISE THIS FRIDAY for César Chávez XVII so hie thee quickly to CesarChavezNevada.com or call me at (775) 882-TALK for reservations. Gov. Steve Sisolak will deliver the keynote address at the Grand Sierra-Reno on March 27.
Be well. Raise hell. Esté bien. Haga infierno.
Andrew Barbano is a 50-year Nevadan and editor of NevadaLabor.com. As always, his opinions are strictly his own. E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org Barbwire by Barbano has originated in the Tribune since 1988.